Family fights government in land dispute near Area 51
Joe Sheahan is in the fight of his life to save his family’s Nevada mine from being swallowed up by the federal government’s mysterious Area 51.
Technically, Sheahan’s family no longer even holds title to Groom Mine, which it owned for 130 years. The federal government took the deed through eminent domain after first offering the Sheahans $333,300, a price family lawyer James Leavitt called “embarrassingly low.” The family is fighting back in federal court, but if the Sheahans and Uncle Sam can’t agree on a value, it could wind up before a jury.
Possibly more interesting is what the federal government wants with a parched stretch of rural Nevada desert and an old mine that hasn’t been active in decades. The area is known for two of the feds’ most closely guarded secrets: nuclear testing and UFOs.
So far, the family has not been paid for the land. Initially, the family was sued by the federal government in September of 2015 in a complaint case of eminent domain. A few days later the government then filed a motion to take the over the property. Now, Appraisal reports are being exchanged in the discovery phase of the litigation. If the parties cannot reach a sufficient value for the land, the Sheahans are prepared to fight it in a jury trial.
The mine hasn’t been in full operation since 1954, but until fall of 2015 family members went out from time to time to blast for minerals. The 400 acres of land sits almost 6,000 feet above sea level with panoramic views of the surrounding Groom Mountain Range and borders the Nevada Test and Training Range, which includes Area 51. According to Sheahan, his family’s land had always been highly sought after by the U.S. Air Force base looking to expand its flight-testing range, “They told me the land was like a suit hemmed in too tight that needed to breathe, that’s why they want our land“ Sheahan said.
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